While you were watching a certain basketball tournament in March, our Kansas City affiliate KCSourceLink was hosting its annual Battle of the Brands, a social media competition pitting 64 Kansas City businesses against one another in a bracket-style tournament.
Here’s how the battle works: The businesses that qualify to enter the competition are separated into four types of entrepreneurship (Main Street, Innovation Led, Second Stage and Microenterprise). Business owners take to social media (newsletters, events or however they want) to encourage their fans and community to go to the Battle of the Brands website to cast a vote in their favor.
Over the course of the month, the field is narrowed from 64 businesses and then through head-to-head bracket-style competitions and voting, down to just 1. Throughout the month, business owners get free exposure for their business and KCSourceLink gets tens of thousands of visitors to its website.
Why does Kansas City host a month-long social media competition? And why should you consider doing the same for your entrepreneurial community? We asked Kyle J Smith, communications coordinator for KCSourceLink, to share the ins and outs of hosting a social media competition. Here's what he had to say:
Business owners want to be involved.
Building relationships with business owners can be challenging—they’re busy and their needs are constantly shifting. Battle of the Brands proved to be an excellent opportunity for us to grab their attention—135 businesses nominated themselves for a chance to enter.
Out of the 64 businesses who entered the battle proper, 41 were completely new to the battle. That means that year after year, the reputation of Battle of the Brands is growing and more folks know that KCSourceLink is the place to go for entrepreneurship in Kansas City.
After the competition ended, we surveyed the 64 businesses. Nearly all of the participating businesses (90 percent) said they competed in Battle of the Brands to get “Exposure for my business.” This social media competition was truly a win-win; business owners got some love on the Internet and we got to know them better (and potentially turn them into clients).
The community wants to play along.
Not only did the business owners enjoy Battle of the Brands, people from across Kansas City got in on the fun as well. In fact, a whole bunch of them did—more than 60,000 votes were cast in the competition. Fans took it upon themselves to promote the battle (and KCSourceLink) on their own social media accounts.
Battle of the Brands even caught the attention of the local media. Here’s a tremendous article that was published in the Kansas City Business Journal, “Microenterprise clinches unprecedented victory in Battle of the Brands.” And that’s just one of the articles that was published in support of local businesses and KCSourceLink.
Drive traffic to your website and highlight all of your resources.
Each year, the social media competition is always one of the biggest drivers of traffic to the KCSourceLink website, with 123.5 percent more traffic during the battle than the previous period. And while people may come to the site to vote, they hang out to read content on the blog and Entrepreneurs in Action feature, browse the Learning Center, find classes and events or meet Kansas City entrepreneurial support organizations through The Resource Navigator® database.
Shine a light on and learn about local businesses.
During Battle of the Brands, we shared content through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and newsletter encouraging people to vote in support of local business. During this time, we garnered more than 300,000 social media impressions—that’s a whole lot of eyeballs on Kansas City entrepreneurship.
It is also 53 percent more impressions than during last year’s battle. That's due at least in part to Facebook Live videos. If you haven’t played around with this awesome feature, you should. Facebook Live videos are easy to make, you can pack them with value and they’re simple to engage with (aka very share-able).
In our wrap-up survey, we asked what the business owners would like to know more about. The responses ranged from “Resources in Kansas City to help my company fund an expansion, open an additional location, explore a new market, etc.” to “How the KCSourceLink resource network is helping improve access to capital (microloans, seed capital, venture capital, grants, etc.)” This is invaluable information that we use to build relationships with our entrepreneurs.
We love hosting Battle of the Brands. Bringing attention to the incredible entrepreneurs who make Kansas City special is one of our favorite things to do. But we’re not the only ones who enjoy it, so do the contenders. In the wrap-up survey, 76 percent of business owners said they “Interacted with other businesses in the battle in a way that was meaningful.” And nearly 50 percent said they “Engaged my employees in a fun activity for Battle promotion.”
For us, Battle of the Brands is an easy win. It feels really good to build trust with local entrepreneurs. A whopping 90 percent of participating businesses said they would be back for Battle of the Brands 2018.
Do you want to rally your entrepreneurial community?
KCSourceLink is able to host Battle of the Brands with the tools and know-how provided by SourceLink. Utilizing our website platform SiteConnex® and client relationship management (CRM) system Biz-Trakker®, KCSourceLink is able to capture the attention of thousands, highlight their Resource Partners and strengthen the local entrepreneurial infrastructure.
Whether you’re looking for tools to map your entrepreneurial ecosystem, programs to identify your community’s entrepreneurial resources or you want to host an event that brings your community together, we want to help.
Email us and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for best practices and know-how on activating and fueling your community's entrepreneurial infrastructure.